Thursday’s bond market has opened in positive territory following a batch of uneventful economic data and sharp losses in stocks. The stock markets are in selling mode during early trading with the Dow down 180 points and the Nasdaq down 42 points. The bond market is currently up 16/32 (2.80%), but unfortunately, weakness in bond trading late yesterday will prevent a sizable improvement in this morning’s mortgage rates. If comparing to yesterday’s morning pricing, you should see a slight improvement in this morning’s pricing.

This morning had three pieces of economic data for the markets to digest, but none of them showed a significant surprise that drew much attention. The Labor Department started it with last week’s unemployment figures at 8:30 AM ET. They announced that 326,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, up slightly from the previous week’s revised total of 325,000. Analysts were expecting to see an increase of 1,000 initial claims, so this morning’s announcement put results right with forecasts. Therefore, it has had practically no impact on this morning’s mortgage rates.

The National Association of Realtors said late this morning that December’s Existing Home Sales rose slightly. The increase wasn’t expected, but it was from a lower level of sales in November than previously thought. Even with the downward revision to November’s sales, the December increase showed home resales were at a lower level than many analysts were predicting. That makes the data slightly favorable for the bond market and mortgage rates, but this was a minor variance from forecasts and also had little influence on this morning’s rates.

December's Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) was the third report of the day and the final release of the week. The Conference Board said at 10:00 AM ET that their LEI rose 0.1% last month, falling just short of forecasts. That means the indicators are pointing to slightly weaker economic growth than expected over the next several months. Because weaker economic conditions make mortgage bonds more attractive to investors, this should be considered neutral-to-slightly favorable news for mortgage shoppers. 

There is nothing of importance set for release tomorrow, so expect stock trading to drive bond movement and mortgage rates. If today’s stock selling extends into tomorrow, we could see further gains in bonds that push mortgage rates lower. On the other hand, a rebound in the major stock indexes could fuel bond selling that came as a result of today’s stock weakness.

If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Lock if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Lock if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now... This is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.